The Lord's Prayer

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples. -- Luke 11:1 (ESV)

This is probably a request by one of the disciples in the crowed which Jesus answered in public (Matthew 5:1). I'm quoting Matthew's version which include more detail.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

-- Matthew 6:5-8 (ESV)

The parts in italics are omitted by Luke.

Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your Name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

-- Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

You will also note that some bible translations like the ESV will omit the Doxology at the end of Jesus prayer, while other translations like the NKJV will include it.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. -- Matthew 6:13 (NKJV)

Brent MacDonald explains:

This doxology is never included in Luke's version, nor is it found in the earliest extant manuscripts of Matthew's version. It is commonly found in later manuscripts of what are commonly known as "the Byzantine text" manuscripts. Lack of early manuscript evidence to its original existence has led many modern translators to exclude it from Matthew. It is thought that the abrupt ending of the original sparked those using the prayer in liturgy to append a doxology to the Lord's Prayer as a proper conclusion in corporate usage.

Another reason why the Doxology might be lacking from the original manuscripts is that Jesus immediately explain the last sentence of the prayer:

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. -- Matthew 6:14-15

Without the Doxology, prayer become informal and open-ended. There are no formal corporate closure or "amen" that states this is the end of the communication, and we are no longer praying and God should now stop listening. When two or more people have a conversation, it is unnatural to say everything in one go, close of with "amen" and cut the conversation. Usually people allow each other to respond and respond on the response of the other person. Perhaps that was the idea that Jesus tried to convey?

If you do not stop and continue reading Matthew you will find that Jesus explain what he meant by each sentence of his prayer, except for the Doxology.

Our Father in heaven

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: 'Father...'”

-- Luke 11:1-2 (ESV)

Jesus never taught that anyone should start his prayer with like "Oh Lord Jesus...", but instead that we need to pray the Father. If we were supposed to pray to Jesus, he would have said so.

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. -- Matthew 6:16-18

Why is it a big deal that Jesus addressed the Father in heaven?

In the next verse Jesus gives the answer:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Hallowed be Your Name

Name means the Father's authority. The Father's authority, name or identity is unique and separate from any other god. Therefore, it is "hallowed". In other words, Jesus implies that he submit himself and everything he is about to pray under the Father's authority and that he acknowledge that the Father is God.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! -- Matthew 6:22-23

If Jesus had to submit to the Father, how much more do we too also need to submit and obey the Father so that we do not live in darkness.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

We need to choose whose kingdom we will serve and whose will be done.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. -- Matthew 6:24

Give us this day our daily bread

Given that Luke also recorded a question asked by "a disciple" (Luke 11:1). It is possible that Jesus sermon was interactive and that he was addressing the disciples' questions and concerns:

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.

Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing?

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

-- Matthew 6:25-34

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors

The unwillingness to forgive, is judgemental.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Lead us not into temptation

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. -- Matthew 7:1-6

In other words, do not defile what is holy (set apart for God's purpose) but falling for temptations.

Deliver us from evil

As children of the Father, we may ask Him to delivery us when we are in trouble.

Jesus explain what he meant with these words in Matthew 7:7-12, however, in this case I will quote Luke's version because he adds more detail. The detail omitted by Matthew is written in italics.

And he said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight

and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’
and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?

I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” -- Luke 11:5-13

The Father won't give an evil spirit when you ask for the Holy Spirit.

Note Jesus specifically speaks to someone who has a good (righteous) relationship with the Father as he mentions "friend" or "son" in his examples and he was talking to his "disciples".

This is not a ticket to manipulate God like a magical genie to obey your wishes as a Psalmist wrote:

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. -- Psalm 66:18 (NKJV)

We need to move under God's protection as David wrote:

The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, and bear them up forever.

-- Psalm 28:8-9 (NKJV)

Then He will answer our prayers:

He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer

-- Psalm 66:19-20 (NKJV)

Closing of the prayer

There is no closing of "the Lord's Prayer" according to Luke and Paul:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (ESV)

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. -- Romans 1:9

Jesus' prayers

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:

Father, the hour has come.

Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given me, for they are Yours. And all mine are Yours, and Yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that You sent me. And the glory which You gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one: I in them, and You in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent me, and have loved them as You have loved me.

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which You have given me; for You loved me before the foundation of the world.

O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

-- John 17:1-26 (NKJV)

Just like "the Lord's Prayer":

  • Jesus addresses the "Father", not himself or any other god.
  • Again Jesus submits under the Father's authority.
  • Again Jesus aim is to glorify the Father in everything he requests.
  • Again Jesus request that the Father's kingdom should extend.
  • Again Jesus ask for protection against the "evil one".
  • There is also no "Amen" or closing in this prayer

Matthews recording of Jesus' last prayers:

He went a little farther and fell on his face, and prayed, saying,

“O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”


Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

-- Matthew 26:39,42 (NKJV)

  • Both prayers, Jesus addressed his "Father".
  • Both prayers, Jesus submit under the Father's authority.
  • Both prayers, there were no "Amen" or closing in this prayer

And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” -- John 11:41 (ESV)

  • Jesus addresses the "Father", not himself or any other god.
  • Again Jesus submits under the Father's authority, by acknowledging that "you sent me".
  • There is also no "Amen" or closing in this prayer

The authority of Jesus

Throughout Jesus last recorded prayer he highlighted that great authority will be given to him.

What does that benefit us?

Truly, truly, I (Jesus) say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

-- John 14:12 (ESV)

  1. You need to "believe in Jesus", i.e. trust Jesus' teachings. The name of Jesus is not a magic word. Prayer require faith, i.e. trust that God would answer the request.
  2. When "you ask in Jesus' name" it does not mean you address Jesus, but instead that you ask something under the authority or with Jesus approval. In other words, you are not asking something that Jesus would not have approved.
  3. We know Jesus would have approved a prayer request if it is something that would glorify the Father God.

In addition, Paul also wrote that prayer request must be made in "thanksgiving", which is not truly possible if you do faith that it will be answered:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-- Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

Just like Jesus submit himself under the Father's authority when he prayed, we too should submit ourselves under God's authority, which means we should pray that God's will be done and not for selfish desires.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name (authority), he will give it to you.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name (authority).

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

-- John 16:23 (ESV)

Therefore, loosely adding the words "in the name of Jesus" to the end of your prayer does not magically force God to obey your wishes. We are not building our own empires on earth for our own convenience.

Jesus makes it clear that we need to submit ourselves, our plans and our prayers to his will (authority or name). We are supposed to extend God's Kingdom with the purpose to have an eternal effect on both ourselves and the people we pray for. This may also include requests to God to forgive our sins, to protect us and to provide for us on earth as He understood we need these things to be able to accomplish the bigger plan and purpose in His Kingdom.

Paul's advise

Pray for all people

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -- 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV)

Public prayer

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. -- 1 Timothy 2:8

This contradicts the tradition to fold hands to pray. Perhaps the point Paul was making, is that you cannot lead public prayer if you are still angry with someone or if there is still a quarrel that needs to be resolved.

However, there are no other laws or recommendations anywhere else in the bible that dictate a specific posture for prayer. If that was important then Jesus would have said so when he taught his disciples to pray.

Another example or prayer posture is:

And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying: "O my God..." -- Ezra 9:5-6 (ESV)

Praying to Jesus

Jesus never demonstrated or requested his disciples to pray to him.

However, that would have been pointless because Jesus was in those days physically in the presence of his disciples.

Yet, we have the examples of Stephan, Paul and John who spoke directly to Jesus after his exaltation, but in all these instance they were directly speaking to Jesus in a vision like people do when they speak to angels. This is arguably not considered formal prayer.

Praying to the Holy Spirit

Directly prayers to the Holy Spirit was never commanded or even suggested, and we see no examples of it anywhere in any scripture except perhaps Ezekiel 37:9. But in Ezekiel's case it was a prophecy not a prayer and there is also ambiguity whether he was addressing the wind or the Spirit as a prophetic act.

As seen above, we should pray to God, addressed as "our Father". This make sense if you consider that the Holy Spirit is God's Spirit.

Praying to angels

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. -- Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. -- 1 Timothy 2:1-7 (ESV)

As seen, we should not "worship" which implies pray, to angels. We should only pray to God under Christ Jesus's authority.

Praying to the dead

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God. -- Leviticus 19:31 (ESV)

And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? -- Isaiah 8:19 (ESV)

And the reason is:

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun. -- Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 (ESV)